Facebook slides on report 50 million users had profiles accessed illegitimately

  • Facebook‘s stock dipped early Monday morning.
  • The social media giant has faced intense criticism over news that Cambridge Analytica, a political research company with ties to President Donald Trump, had allegedly illegitimately obtained and used 50 million Facebook user profiles.
  • US and UK lawmakers fear the data was used to sway voters in the last presidential election and Brexit.
  • Watch Facebook’s stock move in real time here.

Shares of Facebook fell 4% early Monday morning after news broke over the weekend that a third party was accused of accessing and using the data of more 50 million Facebook user profiles without their permission.

The New York Times and Guardian reported Saturday that the controversial political research outfit, Cambridge Analytica, was accessed user information for highly targeted political ads on Facebook.

Facebook says it provided the data to a University of Cambridge psychology professor, Aleksandr Kogan, for “academic purposes” but that Kogan gave the data to a third party, Cambridge Analytica. The social-media company says that was a violation of its privacy policy, so it immediately suspended Cambridge Analytica, Kogan, and Cambridge Analytica’s founder, Christopher Wylie, while asking them to delete all of their data. Wylie, who no longer works for Cambridge Analytica, was the whistle-blower who detailed how the firm harvested the data from over 50 million Facebook profiles, as well as their “likes” and their friends.

UK lawmakers have already questioned Cambridge Analytica executives in court over it’s handling of Facebook’s private user data and its involvement in manipulating voter beliefs in the Brexit elections. Damian Collins, a member of parliament, said he plans to ask Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg or a senior executive to testify before the group.

The attorney general of Massachusetts, Maura Healey, said she may launch an investigation into this matter.

Facebook has been under intense heat for its role in allegedly allowing parties tied to Russia and the Kremlin to launch political ads and disseminate “fake news” on its platform to influence US voters during the last presidential election. Zuckerberg maintained that the idea Facebook had any serious impact on the election was “crazy.”

European regulators have been especially concerned over privacy and what happens to Facebook’s trove of user data.

Facebook’s stock was trading at $US177.74 per share, and was down 2.09% for the year.

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